FLL Alumni News
Lauren Albrecht, '93, French
I was a French major at Skidmore, class of 1993, and recently moved back to California after having lived in Washington, D.C., for a few years. My husband and I were married last year in France and my foreign languages experience at Skidmore greatly contributed to my interest and love of France and other cultures.
I'm currently not working, but I use my French regularly keeping in touch with friends in France and participating in French events wherever I am living. After finishing my B.A. in French from Skidmore, I did use my French degree by moving to France. where I worked in a 12th century chateau as a tour guide giving tours in French and English and managing the chateau's bookstore. It was a great experience and learned a lot from living abroad.
Dorothy Sterns Albright, '76, Spanish
I was a business/Spanish major working with Professors Casals and Karson. I actually crafted my own major and worked out the classes with both my business and Spanish advisors.
I currently work at the U.S. Trust Co. of New York as a senior vice president head of a department and am a private banker. I use my Spanish skills from time to time with clients that speak that language. I used my skills more frequently when I worked for the Bank of New York 13 years ago, as we had more clients there from South America. I have found it to be very helpful over the years with clients and they appreciate speaking in their native language. I also find that working in NYC and speaking Spanish in general is an asset.
Joy Allen '73, French
I was at Skidmore before your time, arriving with a decent GPA from Columbia's School of General Studies at the beginning of my sophomore year and then the following year spending my junior year in Paris with Smith College and returning for my senior year at Skidmore. (I lived in Rounds when it was brand new and quite elegant.) I've heard that Skidmore has its own program in Paris now—how great! At the time I went, Smith took five guest women students a year, and I was one of them in 1971–72. My memories of Skidmore are mostly excellent. I was also deeply nourished by the visual arts courses and ambiance at Skidmore.
I was an artist before college, but I had to take an income-producing job immediately afterward, i.e. I didn't know how to arrange entry to Yale Drama or Julliard, so I went to work as a journalist and eventually (after my first master's at Columbia University in journalism) a foreign correspondent in—where else?—Paris, for a major news organization. Living in Paris gave me the opportunity to rediscover the great cinemateques that had changed my life during my junior year in Paris some years before. Seeing Bertolucci's The Conformist in theatrical release in Paris in '72 had planted seeds in the brain and body that would eventually germinate.
My determination to expand spiritually, academically and artistically eventually resulted in my obtaining the personal confidence it took to leave journalism and, after writing speeches for Fortune 500 CEOs to earn the fees, go back to Columbia: this time for the M.F.A. in filmmaking. I graduated at the top of my class with two short films running in the festivals. One of those festivals was the one in Montreal, where Marguerite Duras had previewed all of her films. I eventually visited her in Paris. I was especially thrilled that audiences at that festival found some meaning in my earliest work. Festival audiences especially responded to a short piece entitled The Blue Veil about an 80 year-old woman and ... desire. Shortly before shooting my thesis film, a French friend of mine in New York told me that he'd read in a French paper that Bertolucci was shooting in Seattle of all places (he almost never shoots in the U.S.) I sold my video camera to pay for the retail ticket that enabled me to fly immediately out to Seattle. Having had a difficult shoot in Nepal just prior, he was disinclined to let me observe ("hell shoots" are draining). However, I sat down and wrote a three-page understanding of his work and his deconstructionist take on the French New Wave, gave it to him; and he called up a little later and said the Italian equivalent of "OK, you're in. Be at the location at 9 a.m. tomorrow." It was great fun and very instructive: Half of his team is French, the other half Italian. (I am half Italian and have dual citizenship and also know and love the French, so I was right at home.) Observing his shooting procedures, honed over 30 years, confirmed some of my nascent shooting habits, and that gave me confidence. He treated me as a senior film student, quizzing me—with a lift of an eyebrow—on which take of a particular scene I liked best and why, perhaps as Pasolino had done many years before when Bertolucci was his assistant. I liked his "never hurry, never rest" atmosphere with an continuous undercurrent of laughter. Wryness on a shoot is a good thing. He would say to the actors after most shots, "bene," and after shots that he knew weren't as good, he'd say "molto bene." The experience, just prior to shooting my thesis and graduating, was a wonderful "coincidence" bringing me full circle to the moment when I had many years before found my love of film—in Paris.
The story gets a bit darker after film school, as it was discovered that I had a life-threatening case of Lyme Disease, a malady with which I imagine you're all familiar up there in Saratoga. I battled it for some years, but the time it took to do so delayed the shooting of my first feature, an indispensable benchmark for all independent filmmakers. I did get to spend some time in London and Paris writing and optioning a feature screenplay. And finally I am well at work on the feature I plan to shoot, the working title of which is "Beyond Recognition." Not surprisingly, it will be shot partly on location in Paris.
Alissa Alter '06, Spanish
(...) I was also a dance major and am living in NYC pursuing musical theater. I am teaching dance classes, getting my Pilates certification, taking numerous dance, voice, and acting class, and waitressing part time. I use my spanish every time I work at the restaurant with all of the kitchen staff. Many of them don't understand a lot of English, so I am often recruited to translate for managers as well as other servers.
I haven't been abroad post-Skidmore, but am hoping, once I receive my Pilates certification, to work in Madrid at the Pilates studio there. I will have to put that on hold, however, since auditioning and trying to get into the musical theater world requires me to be in NYC.(...)
Annie Crocker Arzeno, '73, Spanish
B.A. in romance languages, MBA in international business & marketing from NYU Graduate School.
Have been living in Greenwich, Conn., since 1987, teaching in private schools since 1989.
Went for an MBA in international business after college; however decided to enter the teaching profession after starting a family. Have taught for 15 years now: Spanish from third grade through AP, French Level 1 for one year. Teaching in private schools, so have never bothered to get my certification as it is not required.
Allison Ball '06, French
I graduated this past spring with a major in French. I am now working for Denmark's International Study Program (www.dis.dk ) in Copenhagen, where I hold the position of "study tours and academic affairs assistant."
We are a program affiliated with the University of Copenhagen, and have about 500 international students here each semester studying a variety of things, from architecture and design, European politics and society, international business, to molecular biology, and many other things. I started my job here in Copenhagen in July 2006, I plan on being here at DIS until February 2008.
If I had not studied in Denmark I would not have been eligible for this dream job. I get to travel all around Europe and help organize both academic and adventure tours for the students each semester. I am positive that if i did not study abroad before this (I studied in Rennes, France, for a year in high school, studied for a semester at Skidmore in Paris, and then one semester at DIS) they would have quickly passed over my application for this current position. My time abroad gave me a unique global perspective and an open attitude toward other cultures that is essential in the job that I do now.
Although I am not directly using my French in my daily life, it has helped me organize some of the academic tours to France this semester. In fact, I just got back from leading an eight-day tour to Paris for 20 students where I was the main communicator between the guides and my students. I also have begun to take Danish lessons here in Copenhagen. email@example.com
I presently work as a sales planner in direct response ad sales for A&E Television Networks. I am occupied by reviewing A&E, the History Channel, Biography, and History International. My daily grind includes analyzing revenue, forecasting, and constant number-crunching. I also deal with clients directly to negotiate rates and times for infomercial airings on the Biography Channel. In addition to this cable TV business, I have been doing backup singing and dancing for various recording artists in New York. I have performed at venues such as Shine, the Remy Lounge, and Downtime. I have also made TV appearances on Fox 5's Good Day New York and the CBS Evening News.
I currently do not use French in the workplace, but I try to practice with friends whenever possible. I do have past work experience involving French though: Air France as a passenger service rep during Skidmore summer breaks as well as brief stint with Societe Generale Cowen as equity derivative trading assistant after graduation.
Gwendolyn Bleumich '05, French
I am currently a graduate student at the George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs. This semester, I am taking a leave of absence to study political science and economics at UC Berkeley and explore the West Coast with my parents. I will be returning to D.C. in January (hopefully by then I'll have an apartment!) so I can graduate in May 2007 with an M.A. in international affairs (concentration: international economics).
I did study abroad for a semester during my Junior year. I went to Paris, was going to stay for a whole year, and then ended up leaving after a semester because I did not like it as much as I thought I would. My first host family was absolutely terrible, my second one was OK, but overall my experience in Paris was not as positive and exciting as I had hoped it would be. Nevertheless, I did find that I benefited from it as I am now more familiar with French culture, and I was able to travel a lot more through France than I would have otherwise on my own. It was an interesting cultural experience and it helped me significantly improve my French.
Unfortunately, I have not been able to use it much during my years at graduate school. Occasionally, I will meet someone who speaks French, but other than that it is really hard to keep it up. Hopefully I will be able to make use of my French skills though once I get a real job after graduate school.
Rebecca Blum '05, French
I am working as the associate director for regional campaigns at Rutgers University. I still live in Manhattan and served as my class's fund chair and FOP chair for our fifth reunion, which was a blast.
My French degree allowed me to view the world from many different perspectives (especially those of the economically disadvantaged and developing countries) and was one of the strongest contributing factors leading to my decision to work towards an MSW with and international focus. I credit professors John Anzalone, Patty Han, Cindy Evans, and others for much of the success I have achieved to date and always appreciate their encouragement to think creatively and analytically.
I miss Paris every single day and speaking French on a more regular basis.
When I graduated from college I worked in sports marketing doing television production and event planning for eight years. I decided to make a career change and get my masters in social work with a focus on aging. I worked at the foundation and participated in developing a grant program which I now manage. I am the deputy director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation National Program Office based out of the University of Southern Maine in Portland. Community Partnerships for Older Adults is a $28 million national program of the fundation that works with communities to improve the systems delivering long-term care and supportive services to vulnerable older adults and their caregivers.
I have used Spanish in each of my jobs as a resource and backup to the work I do. In sports marketing we were selling our television package to Spanish-speaking countries, and my knowledge of the language put our clients at greater ease and created a feeling of trust more quickly. In my current position I use my knowledge of the language and cultural background I learned with my major to communicate with our grantees who are working with Hispanic populations. Again, speaking the language has helped open lines of communication and develop levels of trust that I would not be able to do otherwise.
I have also found when I travel in foreign countries that I can find someone to communicate with in Spanish if not English. It has been a useful aid many times to help find my way or communicate with someone locally.
I can't say that I have used my fluency in French as much as I would have liked to except to translate Canadian traffic violations for my former employer and also to find my car in a parking garage on New Year's in Montreal, but I can say that the ability to speak, read, and write a foreign language fluently makes quite an impression on prospective employers. I have chosen the advertising field, and I hope to eventually work abroad and return to the city I discovered during my junior year abroad: Paris. I know that my French major will eventually help my candidacy for a position as an international representative of a worldwide corporation. I will return to school next year to Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Communications and participate in a wonderful program to receive a master of arts in advertising. I am speaking honestly when I say that my degree in French from Skidmore along with a strong liberal arts education have truly helped me to do what I want to do so far.
Patricia Brennan '74, French
I graduated in 1974 and was a French major during the time Mme Ortoleva was a professor in the Department of Foreign Languages. It was she who encouraged me to apply for a junior year in France program with Hamilton College (Skidmore did not have its own program at the time; my classmate Molly Koebel Delaunay was the Skidmore liaison in Paris for many years following our graduation). I would recommend the year abroad to all language majors. I don't believe there is any substitute for living in the country if you are serious about developing an understanding of its history and culture, as well as attaining a high level of fluency. The junior year in France program was a wonderful adventure in all aspects—intellectually, academically, and socially. I still remember studying on the metro for the Tuesday and Thursday morning verb drills, and when our French family invited our grammar teacher for dinner the evening before my roommate and I planned to cut class to travel to Belgium for the weekend. Living abroad gave me confidence in my ability to adapt to new surroundings and to try new things. Both have been valuable assets in my professional life. Following graduation, I taught French at a local community college for several years, and then attended Villanova University School of Law, graduating in 1983. I have been a practicing attorney since that time, first as an associate, later as a partner in a firm, and now at the helm of my own firm. My practice involves estate planning, mediation, and family law. Sadly, I do not use my French on a daily basis. I do, however, belong to a French conversation group (le circle francais du soir) which is composed of French women whose husbands work at the local pharmaceutical companies, as well as women like myself who have some connection to the French language and culture. I also have a wonderful framed poster of Chenonceaux in my office and one of Vaux-le-Vicomte, my favorite chateau, in our family room. Together with a framed print of the coat of arms of Paris, a gift from another Skidmore student on my junior year abroad program, they are a daily reminder of that glorious year. I am also learning Italian! I have made only two return trips to France since my days at Skidmore, once in 1983 as a law school graduation present, and again in 1993 with a dear friend who was living in England at the time. Following that trip, I told my husband, only half-joking, that I had found the place for us to grow old together in Provence. More recently, my younger daughter chose French as her foreign language in middle school, so we are beginning to have petites conversations together. My older daughter, who has studied Latin for three years, will switch to French next year. We are all looking forward to a family trip to France in the summer of 2004. I can hardly wait to share my favorite places in Paris and the French countryside with my husband and children.
Dan Brimburg, '94, Spanish
From: dbrimberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I actually just graduated a few weeks ago from Thunderbird with an MBA in international management. I'm fairly sure that having a Spanish major was an important factor for admission since a second language is required at Thunderbird. I spent last summer in Guadalajara for a semester abroad (not required, but the option is there). If you have Spanish majors who are interested in international business, I would definitely recommend Thunderbird. The web site is www.t-bird.edu. Over half of the student body is from overseas, so it's an especially unique environment in which to learn. I made several Latin American friends there, and because of that spoke Spanish much more often than I would have somewhere else.
Before Thunderbird I worked in New York City for seven years, mostly in telecommunications and software sales. Spanish didn't really come into play, with the exception of my first job. I worked briefly at a textile company that had a rep in Mexico City, and I was the only sales assistant who could communicate effectively with her. I also remember making a sale to a Spanish company that had come to NYC for a trade show.
At the moment, I'm still doing a job search, and I plan on Spanish being an integral part of what I do. One of the main reasons I went to Thunderbird was so I would be able to incorporate it into my work life. I also believe that it's becoming more important as business becomes more and more global, and the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas is on the horizon.
I currently live in Bushwick, Brooklyn, where I am working as a front-end web developer at a startup. I do some freelance writing on the side. I am also playing shows in Brooklyn and Manhattan and preparing to record an EP in April. In the future, I'd like to find a remote job as a developer where I can work from anywhere so that I can go on tour. My job is intellectually challenging but I miss how meaningful studying languages and literature felt and cherish when I get to have conversations about literature and literary theory.
This is my fifth year teaching in the public school system. I have taught first, sixty, fourth, third, and fifth grades. Before that, I taught ESL to adults through English Connection in Saratoga Springs. I am currently finishing up my master's and will pursue a second master's in ESL. I have also done some private tutoring in Spanish, translations, and test prep for teachers and students.
With my education at Skidmore, I have opened many doors for myself. Spanish in my profession—teaching—is very valuable because there aren't too many of us that are bilingual or trilingual. I use my Spanish to be a mediator between the parents and administrators in my school, provide the Spanish community with translated versions of important documents concerning their children's lives, and most importantly, I offer my students an education in two languages.
Furthermore, I love to learn and experience new things. I have used my love for languages to help a friend in Costa Rica open up her own school. In addition, I have traveled to Germany, Puerto Rico, and the Caribbean to learn about other languages and cultures as well. I hope to someday further my travel experiences and give back to my students, family, and friends.
Georgina Carrion '88, Spanish
Soy abogada hace unos doce (12)años. Me especializo en litigios civiles y comerciales. Tengo mi propio despacho y lo mejor de todo es que trabajo desde mi casa. Hace 5 años me casí con un hombre buenísimo y tenemos dos hijos preciosos. Elena tiene tres años y José Antonio a penas tiene cinco meses. Mi marido, José Antonio, es médico anestesiólogo, y trabaja en un hospital en el área central de la isla.
No sabes cómo atesoro mis estudios de Español con ustedes. Todavía guardo mis libretas de los apuntes de clase. A pesar que todavía no he enseñado ni una clase (siempre ha sido mi sueño), me ha servido de mucho en mi profesión. Como recordarás, yo estudié escuela superior en Connecticut (Choate). Luego Skidmore. Estuve ocho años fuera de Puerto Rico. Gracias a ustedes estudié las grandes obras literarias que eran y son requisito para estudiantes de mi país, y no me olvidé de hablar ni escribir mi idioma. A parte, que en mi profesión es importantísimo saber redactar y expresarse bien. Los recuerdo a todos con un inmenso cariño.
I am actively involved with French in my current position, so I am happy to send you
a summary of that experience and grant permission for this information to appear in
Before coming to Widener Library at Harvard University in 1977, I taught French for a couple of years at the middle school level after receiving the M.A. degree. When my husband and I moved to Boston in 1976, I studied for the master's in library science at Simmons College and by the time I graduated from that program in 1978, I had worked at Widener Library for a year. I have continued at Widener in various positions for the past 26 years.
I used my language background in my first two jobs, serial cataloging and head of serial records, for the first 18 years of my tenure. Having French, Spanish, and some Italian helped immeasurably in corresponding with our library vendors, meetings with their representatives, and handling the variety of "publication puzzles" that regularly occur in the world of academic serials and series.
Three years ago, I accepted the position of research librarian in the Widener Library, with liaison responsibilities to these academic departments: Romance Languages and Literatures, Comparative Literature, and the Literature Program at Harvard. In this role, I teach faculty and students about research methods and using library resources, develop research guides, and assist in answering our readers' reference and research questions. It has been a marvelous application of my background, and the work presents continual challenges due to the changing research landscape. I enjoy this work very much and feel that my studies at Skidmore gave me a very solid foundation upon which to build.
I still live in Morristown, N.J., and am currently a real estate agent working for Burgdorff ERA Realtors in Chatham, N.J. My first job after graduating from Skidmore was as an interest rate swap administrator for Credit Lyonnais in New York City. Since I left that position, I haven't worked for any company where my French was used regularly, though I still occasionally translate snippets of syndication contracts for a former coworker at CBS. I do happen to have some French clients at the moment. Though they've lived here for years and speak perfect English, part of the rapport we've built up is from the ability to communicate effectively in either language. I jump on any chance I get to use my French.
I've kept in close touch with my host family, the Blanchets, whom I love dearly. I've been back to France to visit many times since graduation. So far they've sent two out of three of their children and one cousin to live with me during summers. The children were very young back then and it's been great to watch them grow up. Last summer I attended the wedding of my French "brother" and will undoubtedly return to France for the christening of the baby he and his wife are currently expecting. My photography instructor from JYA is still a good friend, and is actually coming to visit briefly this coming week. The school he began with us and a few other students in his apartment in the 18th is now the premiere photography school in Paris: Speos, the Paris Photographic Institute. I visited there when I was over last summer, and the facilities are truly impressive.
So, you can see French and my time in France still plays a large part of who I am. I think this idea of adding an alumni section is a great one and hope it's a big success.
Darcy Coonan '04, Spanish
I studied abroad in Madrid with the IES program the summer of 2002. I am currently teaching a bilingual pre-K in NYC and have found that my Spanish is incredibly useful. Not only does it help me interact with the children and their parents successfully, but I think that studying a language and being in Madrid has made me more sensitive to the difficulties my students and their families face in learning a new language and struggling to understand. My only regret is that I wasn't able to study abroad for a full semester!
Maria Virginia (Mavi) Corey-Gilmore, '91, Spanish
My name is Maria Virginia Corey (now Gilmore) and I graduated in 1991 with a major in Spanish language and literature. I took some courses in linguistics and later in speech and language pathology while living in Spain after graduation. The goal was to provide a bilingual SPL and audiology clinic here in New York City along with my dearest friend who is fluent in Spanish, English, and Italian. As fate would have it, however, the cards did not play out quite that way. She fell in love and moved away. I started working for my mother, who has an architectural firm here in the city, and have been here ever since.
My mother, being half Mexican, and I speak Spanish every day. We have had a few business dealings with International clients (including building a golf clubhouse at a resort in Mexico) but most of our clients are local or national. My home is filled with the influence of both languages. My son's first expression was just clearly recognized by our nanny as "Donde esta?" accompanied by the shrugging of shoulders. She doesn't really speak English ... only Spanish ... I wouldn't have it any other way. I speak to him exclusively in Spanish, as my mother did with me. I must admit it can be a bit difficult for my husband, although owning a restaurant in NYC for twenty years should have given him a basic knowledge of kitchen Spanish. But he insists that this is his incentive to finally learn along with his son, Clark Tomas. Email: email@example.com
Elisabeth (Betsy) S. Corvene '90, French
My studies in French led me to teaching French I and II at a private school in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, for two years. I then moved into the luxury resort industry, where my affinity for languages and understanding of European lifestyles aided me greatly in dealing with international clientele. I worked in the USVI, Hawaii, Cape Cod, Mass., Antigua, West Indies, and Anguilla, British West Indies, as either an assistant to or the actual front office manger of many top-of-the-line resorts. I am now back in St. Thomas doing sales for a food/liquor wholesaler but take every opportunity possible to travel to French-speaking islands such as St. Martin and St. Barths, where I am regularly complemented on my French accent!
Meredith (Merry) Pettingell Coyle '98, French
My name is Meredith "Merry" (Pettingell) Coyle and I graduated in '98 with a French degree. I just got married this past August and I currently live in Chicago. I am attending Saint Xavier University part time, working on my master's in secondary education. I plan to finish my coursework at the end of this summer. After graduating Skidmore, I worked for two years as a French teacher/resident faculty at a girls' boarding high school in Raleigh, N.C., called Saint Mary's School. I moved to Chicago in 2000 and have been teaching French full-time ever since at the largest girls Catholic high school in the country, Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School. I am very happy with both my professional and personal life. Besides teaching, I spent the summer of 1998 after graduation working at the English as a second language coordinator at a French summer camp in the Pyrenees, a job I had found when I studied abroad in Paris 1996–97, and had worked there summer 1997. Back in the states, summers of 1999, 2000, and 2001 I worked back in upstate New York at a children's summer camp called Southwoods as the program director. Although I didn't use French on a daily basis there, there were several children who came to camp who were from France, and sometimes needed to speak French with someone to take a break from English.
Brian Cugell '04, Spanish
I am currently employed at a private boarding high school, Avon Old Farms School, in Avon, Conn. I teach Spanish 3 (mostly 10th and 11th graders). I was an English/Spanish double major while at Skidmore, and I studied abroad on the Skidmore program in Madrid. Living in Madrid certainly cemented my interest in Spanish as a language as well as the Spanish culture. It helped my speaking/grammatical skills immensely.
Brian E. Cugell
Foreign Language Department
Avon Old Farms School
500 Old Farms Rd.
Avon, CT 06001